How to Survive if You Are Living in the World’s Most Expensive City

I should not write this post but then maybe I should. Many friends and acquaintances have asked me countless times about Singapore. As much as I wanted them to just google the information about this “fine” city, I don’t want to offend and sound like I don’t want to help. After all, I am not an authority to give tips and useful information about SG because even if I am barely breathing here for 3 years, every day feels like a new day as if I am a tourist. Add that to the fact that I don’t know until when my expat life here will come to an end.

When I came to this beloved merlion island, I only have the things present in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — even fewer. I know nothing about living abroad, not to mention that SG is the first country I have ever visited aside from my home country, Philippines. Even back home, I chose not to live on my own so I could save more money and be with my family. Although most people associate independence living on their own, I have my own predicament and eccentricities to deal with. I have my own definition of independence and more of it to be discussed on the bottom part of this post.

I am just your average overseas worker struggling to make the ends meet. I am also the typical Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who works everyday, gives some portion of my money to my family and live life from paycheck to paycheck. I assume many people are also like me even in the other parts of the world. Until it dawned upon me that I should do something to break this cycle or else, I’d be a beggar all my life. As the adage says, “It is not your fault if you are born poor but it is your fault if you die poor.” There’s nothing wrong about being poor but poverty really bites as many people have financial problems. Come to think of it, most people in this world have financial problems aside from the personal problems we have by default.

On Homesickness
Homesickness happens for real and for some people, this is the core reason why they don’t want to try their fate moving/working in another country, especially to countries that are literally miles and miles away. If you think you are not yet ready to leave your home, you have to condition yourself. Otherwise, there will be lots of things holding you back and you’d never walk out that door and do your luggage. You will be sad, they will be sad and tears will be shed (that is, if you’re emotional but it’s perfectly okay). The good thing is, your tears and their tears will dry up, too. And then, you’d embark on a new journey and have new experiences that are all unknown to you. But then, here comes another problem — when you’re staying abroad for so long and you miss them so much that it hurts or to quote other people, “so much that their hearts bleed.” That’s just life and some drama eating you up. All you have to do is call your loved ones and write them missives. What if all these won’t work? Book a ticket and have your much deserved vacation to be with them.

On Learning
Singapore is a great place to learn new things. Some people say that there’s nothing more to do or learn here because after a year or so, this island becomes boring. I beg to differ although I get bored at times, I do acknowledge the fact that there are lots of things to learn and do here, only if we are looking. As a worker, learning is crucial because getting a job here is very hard. The competition is tough as we cannot blame employers if they wanted someone who is a local or a permanent resident (PR), to which obviously I am not. One of the advantages you could have over the other candidates are your experiences and learning. I do believe that everyone can do a job but one who continuously learn would do the job better. You could enroll yourself to classes that would hone your skills, attend seminars and trainings, have new hobbies and activities and so on and so forth. The lists are endless and it is up to us if we wanted to learn or be mediocre at something forever.
We must not stop learning, whatever that is. If your problem is your budget, the government hosts free activities islandwide. Just keep looking. Further, if you want to learn on a broader scale and gain a new perspective, go travel. Singapore is a travel hub connected to different countries in Asia and this is your chance to travel a lot cheaper if you are here. Some lessons about traveling will lead you to a bit of independence and self-discovery (if you think you are lost for quite some time).

On Independence
In my own definition, independence is living a life that you have dreamt of without having to rely on other people most of the time. I get it, we all need help but not to the point where we get too complacent and be dependent on others whenever problems get the best of us. Problems and trials will always be there, dilemmas will always be present and no matter what we do, these so-called tribulations are here to stay. It is just about us bouncing back, adjusting our sails while we are dancing in the typhoon (not just rain) and getting back on our feet. Your heart will be broken and your ego will be dumped and you’d be very disappointed that things don’t work out as planned. But this is just the start of a wonderful journey and if you continue to improve yourself for the better, you’d find your journey to be one of the bests you’ll ever have. Independence is a subjective matter and the above definition is pretty much how I define it. As an expat here, I have to admit that there are times I find it hard to live in SG (mostly due to the demands of work since I am working in IT) but most of the time, I love it to bits. That’s the reason why I am maximizing my stay here and enjoy every single day, just as I would if I am in my hometown. Now, I can say I am used to it though. Adjustment takes some time and we have to be patient.

On Work
Being jobless sucks, it is a well known fact and a general truth proven ages ago. Due to the nature of my job, each project that I am on ends at a given time to which I have to be prepared. Finding a job nowadays is such a pain in the ass and it frustrates me that even if there are lots of jobs posted everywhere, we have to realize that most of these are just plain job posts. Some of the jobs posted by recruiters and employers are created for pooling only. It only means that they are collecting jobseekers for the said position and would call you once they urgently need you to fill that position in. So, you get the picture, a job post is just a job post at that and nothing more unless it is job offered to you in black and white. You’d be lucky if they urgently need you because that only means you’re on your way to bagging that coveted job. Next step is to have your work pass (visa) approved — which is pretty hard, too.

On Finances
Whether we realize it or not, there are just lots of money matters to deal with, even rich people have money issues. The only difference is that rich people learn from their money woes and remember their mistakes and lessons very well. True enough, we don’t have to be rich but we must be responsible for our own finances. To answer how much money should a tourist bring to SG, all I can say is that it depends on what your purpose is. To have a work here, I went with the safest option of getting a job through a licensed job agency by paying a placement fee. Back to finances, a general tip I could give is to just mind the basics – food, shelter and clothing. Actually, clothing is not that needed, unless you are a fashionista or you need to buy clothes to follow the company’s dress code. You could rent a bedspace and not a whole room if you want to save a lot. Although privacy is priceless, the money you pay for a solo room can be used for other necessities in life or better yet, save the money for emergencies. Salary is given only once, every end of the month. It is definitely wise to save a portion of your salary every month because nothing is sure here even if it is stated in your contract that you have to work that long for that employer. Retrenchment, restructuring, redundancy and other issues arise at any moment.
I suggest that we use our money wisely by spending money on our needs first. Treat yourself, too, so you won’t feel deprived. Being a shopaholic is perfectly fine — only if you can afford it. What I have learned a lot about money here is not about how much we earn but how we handle it. Even if you get to earn a S$10,000 (7928 USD) and above each month, you’d be a pauper if you get a lifestyle you cannot sustain. How do I know? Because I know some people who earn a lot and have lots of debts even if they have bigger salaries every year. I have been jobless for 2 to 3 months and I can say that living in SG is not an easy feat. I am tempted to go back home but luckily, I got a job. So, I am just enjoying my journey here until it lasts. :)

Summary
In reality, any city can be just as expensive if we cannot manage the lifestyle we choose. Besides, even if we own all the riches in the world and not have the responsibility and knowledge on how to manage our funds, every place would be very expensive. To cap it all off, I don’t regret anything the moment I set my foot on sunny Singapore. I am humbled enough to be living in the world’s most expensive city. :D

When losing a job leaves you with no choice but to start over

bliss steps:

~ An eye opener for people who lost their jobs. What’s next? A beautiful adventure perhaps?! :D

Originally posted on from horizon to zenith:

I will be officially jobless in less than a month. I got sacked not for substandard work performance, not due to tardiness and absences, not for immoral conduct, nor for violations of company policy and procedures. The sheer unreasonableness of the reason kills me. I am not getting rehired at work because of my temper.

But who doesn’t have one?

Indeed, life is unfair. I had known this since I was five, and here I am almost 25 years later, still getting scandaled at the fact as if it was the first time I am experiencing injustice.

I had known about my dismissal 3 months ago, but I was on denial stage for so long and still so busy at work (I don’t even get why I continue turning in my best effort) that it didn’t sink in until the HR advised me to consume my leave credits.

In less…

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What is a Woman?

It all started from her womb

The birth of a thousand men

The making of the whole world

And the magic of existence

We all call life.

She seals each morning and evening

With a kiss that feels surreal

Nurtured little mouths with love

Embraced her other half

With ardent zeal and passion.

Weak, strong or undefined

She is behind every man –

Every man’s success is possible

Because she’s behind

Backing up each and every fall.

A mum, a sister or a friend

She can become anyone

She wants herself to be

She is all yours to take

How can you not love a woman?

Frozen hearts are melted

By her warmth and hotness

Even the most powerful

Have become weakest

At their knees.

She is a woman

More rare than a diamond

More precious than wealth

She is your life

She is all you need.

~ This poem is especially dedicated to our mums. She is the first woman we have known. Have a Happiest International Women’s Day!

The Bum’s Newspaper – A Day in the Life of a Bum

As I’ve said in my previous post, I’ll be writing something about my week. That’s a wrap, a full wrap because my hands are always full. Idle moments are also scarce if you’re the type of person who wants to be busy most of the time. I do not know if I should say this but at one point or another, I love being a bum. I also hate being one but hating it would just make matters seem worse so I’ve changed my perception about it. I could just think that these two jobless months are my vacation months. Does it count to be a hiatus? I’d like to think it does but it doesn’t. I went to job interviews this week, whew! Thanks to myself for being so persistent on applying, let alone that most of the job openings are for job pooling only. Whatever. :D

In answer to the WP’s challenge, the objects that I am always using now are my cellular phone, laptop and newspaper! As primitive as it might sound, some of the job openings that are urgent are found in the island’s newspaper. And, I am holding it now. :-)

Here’s my simple itinerary:

Morning: Exercise upon waking up. If I am too hungry, I just eat right away. However, there is no excuse not to stretch and work my butt downstairs. If I always sit and sleep, I would never get fit. Besides, I have to be healthy in order to prepare for the next medical exam, given that I’d bag that job. After my so-called exercise at the free gym downstairs (see, it’s free yet I am lazy), I take the stairs, sort of a cool down after the exercise. Then, I eat and apply online and follow up my applications by talking to some agents/headhunters.

Afternoon: Still doing that same damn thing, job hunting but with some chatting on the side. All work and no play would make me dead, er, dull. Once in awhile, it won’t hurt to treat ourselves to occasional reading or hobby when doing something that is tiring. Yep, applying jobs can be a tiring feat if you’ve been doing it for months esp. every single day wherein you’re on the lookout for the newest job posts the job site offers. I’ve read somewhere that it is nice to drift away from your current task every 25 minutes, then work again. It may not apply to most people esp. the ones who really like to concentrate on their tasks and not break their own momentum. But the 25 minutes break perfectly works for me. I have gotten used to it even if I am in the mood for writing.

Note: If you’re looking for a job, create/update your Linkedin account. Some employers found me there and called me up.

Evening: This is where I really take long breaks. After past 6 or 7PM, I take a long walk and play with a cat if I see one. I eat my dinner and have a dessert if I am not that full then have a long walk again. Before bedtime, I eat again, sort of a midnight snack or just drink a cup  of hot chocolate.

And what about the newspaper you ask? I still read it but I do not read the Careers Section. There’s more to life than just finding a job but I do acknowledge how important it is to have one. Without a job, I wouldn’t be able to prepare for the rainy days and won’t be a happy bum that I am now. Being the spontaneous person that I am, I honestly don’t know what to do next but one thing’s for sure, I’d have fun. No worries, just prepping for the next days to come with my trusted newspaper to keep boredom at bay. :)

P.S. Omg, I don’t know if the newspaper has a relevance to what I have written. Obviously, this is what happens when one becomes a professional bum. Cheers! :D

Weekly Writing Challenge: Object

Thank you for reading my 100th post. :)

A Week in the Life Series of a Lurker (will launch soon)

Referring myself as the lurker because I run this blog is pathetic and corny. But for now, forgive me at that. :D It is a general term that I use to describe myself. Although I am not associating myself with my job status, I’d rather consider myself a lurker. I do not want to refer myself as someone specific (e.g. writer, worker or whatever). All of us are lurkers in our own right, the only difference is the experiences we have and the adventures and journeys we choose to embark on. Other than that, I think it is safe to say that we are in the same boat. :-)

A typical day of my life is a day where I eat, take a bath, read some stuff online and feast on some news, chat with friends and colleagues, do my job and do some errands if there are any. See, I am just like all of you there, doing what most people do. However, in the succeeding posts for this A Week in the Life series, I’d tell you what I do on a normal basis (boring, eh?) with a twist — things I’ve learned and what I find funny with some facts that I also do not know of before. I’d keep the posts succinct so you won’t be bored reading long posts that seem to be never ending.

Note: I would also like to apologize because my English is not superb. If I am able to convey my thoughts and you understand it, thank you very much. I am also open to criticisms so please keep it coming. I have developed a thick skin already and I am used to accept such bad or rude comments — it is how we perceive it that matters. Please do comment and let me know what you want more to be discussed and read about in my blog. Thank you to those peeps who sent me comments. I really appreciate it. Have a happiest V-day everyone! <3

Top Gadget for 2014 and Counting: A Good Mood Gadget

Creation. I am a person who would always love to create something for someone especially when granting someone else’s wishes or whims. But this time, I will not create a genie that would grant my wish or any other person’s wishes — that would make life dull and life won’t be as much exciting. This is a one of a kind creation, a breakthrough this 2014, with a magical manifestation that would leave people breathless. Is this too much marketing? I don’t think so because the product will speak for itself.

What I would create is a good mood gadget that one can use when s/he is in a bad mood. This gadget looks like a pen and becomes a wand when being held after five seconds. This will not work if the person is in a good mood because he is already in a good state. The person in a good mood can just give it to the one who is in a bad mood – annoyed, sad, crabby, grumpy, worried, etc.

The person who’s in a bad mood just needs to wave the good mood gadget aka wand, like he is drawing something in the air. He can draw stars, waves, hearts, his name or whatever he wishes to draw until he won’t notice that he is feeling much better. The drawing activity will take about five minutes to complete in order to work and will become a pen once it reaches six minutes of activity. If the user is inconsistent while waving the wand, it won’t work. There should be no disruptions as one must be focused if he wants to be in a good mood. As a watcher, you’d get to see your pal beaming with happiness, smiling back at you or just laughing.

As with any gadget, there is a bonus to this one! If you lose a thing and you need to find it right away, you can drop the gadget then the gadget will search for the lost thing. How? It will become a wand again and will direct you to the location of your lost object. Cool, huh?! But remember, the bonus benefit will only work after you are put into a good mood with this gadget. And yes, people with a good mood can use this gadget to find their lost stuff!

I think many people would like to have this kind of gadget because every person gets stressed. No one is a martyr. Besides, when one is in a good mood or happy state, he can perform better and do lots of good things. With or without a Nobel Prize, my good mood gadget will be my contribution to the world. Go and give it a wave of your own! This is definitely one of the world’s best gadgets of the year! :-)

Note: 90% of the proceeds would go to charities around the world.

Daily Prompt: World’s Best Widget

Becoming A Minimalist

Less is more. So this year, I want to try to become a minimalist, a certain note higher than my old minimalist self. And because I am my own guinea pig, I would want to see for myself if being a minimalist (a notch higher) would do me more good than harm. When I am climbing mountains, I only carry things that I need so my pack won’t be as much heavy. It gets heavier when tiredness sinks in.

Compared to most people, you could say that I own less stuff except for the gifts I send back home. I tend to hoard stuff to be given to loved ones. I’d put it all in a big box then I send the box home. This is cheaper than having the items checked in at the airport come departure time. I wonder if I could do with less waterproof and Badtz this year. But iTunes? I don’t think so. It’s just great that I have a terabyte hard disk and a cloud somewhere.

Listed are the advantages of being a minimalist:

Note: Ditch what is not applicable to you.

1. Ask yourself if there is a need to buy the item. If you are not going to use it more often and it is not a necessity, forget it.

2. If you are a lazy bloke like me and you are not fond of arranging things, having less stuff is easier. It would be easy to just clean the little stuff you have and your place would not be that messy. For reading materials, have a reading app (Zinio,Kobo, Google Play, etc.) on your phone/tablet or own a Kindle.

3. Buying less stuff would save you more money. Because of this, you could buy a sensible item or a coveted one that you’ve been eyeing for the longest time.  If your budget permits, buy something that is durable so it would last for a very long time. Therefore, it would save you more bucks. Although for collectors, I know this is not applicable.

4. Because you only have things that you need, you would be sure that each item will serve its purpose very well. The item will be very useful until it gets old and damaged. Let us learn to recycle as much as possible.

5. There will be less worry about losing and finding stuff. After all, less is more.

I guess I am just fortunate that I collect and create moments. My mind is my repository, a vast space with an unlimited storage capacity. Further, we could also own a minimalist’s mind. Get rid of unwanted and bad thoughts and focus on the good ones. As with any problem, we are allowed to think of our problems only if we are also thinking about the solutions. Is this a great way to start the year? What do you think? :)